"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere beyond the morning." - J.B. Priestly

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Prep

I totally screwed up Christmas last year.  Not sure why I felt it necessary to pick up 2 seasonal jobs, but it occupied all of my time and I didn't enjoy the season nor did I do any baking, etc.  I find it interesting that, working at Kohl's in a retail environment, we're inundated with Christmas well before Halloween.  The merchandise starts coming in September and, of course, we get the Christmas music during every work shift.  Last year, I was 'Christmas'd' out before the day even got here.

This year, I'm enjoying it considerably more; my work hours are much less and I'm enjoying the shopping (mostly done online) and also doing a lot of baking, etc.  That said, I can't believe how badly I'm doing with the treats.

I made fudge several days ago and decided to double the recipe.  However, I only doubled the sugar so it heated up really fast and I overcooked it.  It hardened in the pan before I could get it out and I seriously thought I'd lose my good Calphalon pan.  So, I made a second batch -- and I doubled only the sugar part AGAIN.  This time, it did turn out like fudge but a bit sweeter.  Still, I decided to keep it and I've been eating it.

Today, I decided to make caramels and had just started it when Susie called.  While talking to her on the phone, I was stirring the pot but the temperature got away from me so, once again, I had to throw out the entire mess as we would have been cracking our teeth on it.  **Sigh!**

On the plus side, I was able to make the peanut butter blossom cookies, peanut clusters, about 6 dozen cut-out cookies, and some interesting things with sugar cookie dough and jam today.  I also put together what looks to be an awesome lasagna!  Also, for the first time in many years I also put together a batch of Brandy Slush.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to decorate the cookies, make some of those little Swedish sandwich cookies, put together some of those cornflake wreath things -- and I need to run to Olive Garden to pick up our salad dressing and some last minute things at the grocery store.  With luck, I may be able to squeeze in a pedicure, too!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Family Reunion

Things just get harder to schedule as your kids get older and they have kids with schedules of their own....  Last year, we didn't have our annual summer family reunion since we had just lost my Dad at the end of January and none of us felt like planning it.  This year, though, I thought it would be good to get things started early so I checked some calendars and found that our usual date in August is already scheduled for the Tornio family reunion.  Two weeks later, Mom, Susie, and I will be in Alaska so that meant that August was out.  (Note:  because Scott only has Ian on alternating weekends, we really only get 2 weekends per month to plan).  Steve will be in Vegas one of the weekends in July and the Gall family reunion is another of the weekends and the other weekend in July is immediately following the 4th.  June seems to be too early for a lot of swimming so.....

Anyway, it was decided to go back to the original 2nd weekend in August and the kids can hit both the Carter and Tornio family reunions in the same weekend.  We also thought it would be nice to invite the extended family so I sent Facebook invitations to everyone for August 10 & 11 at Currier's Lakeview Lodge in Rice Lake.

Tonight, I went on Currier's website to book a room for us for that weekend and they appear to be full on the Thursday and Friday nights of two consecutive weeks (including the week that we want).  Saturday may be available.  It wouldn't be the end of the world -- I suppose we could stay at some local motel on Friday night and move to Currier's for Saturday night, but it would be annoying.  Not everyone stays Friday night anyway; many come for the day Saturday and leave, others come on Saturday and stay overnight.  It's really those of us coming in from elsewhere that would have to move.  On the plus side, staying at a motel on Friday night would give us a swimming pool before moving to the lake on Saturday.

Anyway, I'm going to call there tomorrow and get the scoop.

[Side note:  when we were in Rice Lake Thanksgiving weekend, Steve and Stacy stayed at the motel with the nice pool (I forget the name) so the kids could swim.  They hadn't been in the pool very long when some other little kid threw a water-soaked nerf ball and hit a light fixture, which broke and sent glass all over the floor.  It didn't take very long before they decided to close the pool.]

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Getting into the Season

It has only snowed once so far this season -- several weeks ago and it melted quickly.  The weather has actually been pretty nice to we were able to get the decorations up outside and, working only one job instead of two this year, I've been able to get my shopping done.

December 1 means that it's time to start watching the seasonal specials and movies so tonight I'm watching "White Christmas" for the first time this season.  I usually watch it several times -- we'll see how many times I watch it this year.  Several years ago, the stage version of "White Christmas" was part of my season package at the PAC and I was really excited.  I traded Jeff's ticket for a Sunday afternoon ticket so I could go twice.  Unfortunately, the stage version just doesn't compare to the movie for me.  Then, last year, I bought the CD (supposedly from the movie), but the music isn't the same.  There's just no comparison to the real thing!  [Note:  love seeing a really young George Chakiris as a dancer at The Carousel Club.]

My shopping is almost complete and it's only the first of the month.  Christmas will be smaller than past years, although it probably won't look like it.  I'm spending less but there still seem to be a lot of packages!  I think I can chalk that up to being a good shopper and the great discounts that I get at Kohl's.  There's always an extra challenge in having so many birthdays at Christmas-time.  Anna's was just before Thanksgiving.  Then, we'll have Maggie and Steve before Christmas plus Jeff, Stacy, and Ian right after Christmas in early January.  It makes sense to do that shopping right along with the Christmas shopping.

Jeff was hunting during the first part of November out West and brought home a bunch of pheasants -- frozen and in bags -- that he stuffed in the freezer downstairs.  As a result of those, coupled with a lot of freezer jam, my freezer space is severely limited.  That bothers me quite a bit this time of year as I'd like to do some baking for Christmas, but don't really have a place to put everything.  Maybe I can count on the weather staying cold and my "cold room" (the hot tub room) will be available.  That's where I usually keep things after baking every year, and I can get a real jump-start on it this year.

The Appleton Boy Choir had a short recital at a church here in town last week, and this Saturday is the annual holiday concert at Lawrence Chapel.  Steve and Jack are coming up for the day so I think we're going to have a fun weekend.